Monday, October 02, 2017 - Chuck Traverse tells us about his research measuring errors in transcription!

2Oct

Mutations in DNA, the genetic blueprints for every living organism, are the basis for evolution and adaptation. However, the vast majority of mutations are harmful, and organisms across the tree of life use error-checking mechanisms to minimize the number of DNA mutations that occur. Unfortunately, errors in transcription, the mechanism used to read the DNA encoded in genes and thereby express them, occur at rates that are thousands of times higher than the DNA mutation rate. This means that the genes that the cell works so hard to preserve from mutations will not be correctly read much of the time. Just how frequent do these transcription errors occur? Chuck Traverse tells us about his work, which uses a recently developed DNA-sequencing technique to measure the error rate of transcription in multiple bacterial species.

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Monday, September 11, 2017 - Kolina Koltai discusses how people make decisions about scientific controversies!

11Sep

From vaccine safety to climate change to GMO foods, scientific "controversies" are becoming more and more prevalent in modern society. Our guest this week, Kolina Koltai, studies how people decide which side they stand on when it comes to these issues, and the factors that can either change or reinforce their positions. In particular, she uses the anti-vaccine movement as a case study in exploring what we know about how people make decisions about these public topics. The explanation that people are "idiots" or "misinformed" is not an effective way of understanding why parents choose to not vaccinate their children, so she's developing and exploring new theories to answer explain the phenomenon of this movement and its continued rise.

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Monday, May 29th, 2017 - Riddhiman Kannan uses humanized yeast to study evolution and disease!

29May

Did you know that allthough Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Baker’s yeast) and Homo sapiens (humans, us) are separated by a billion years in evolutionary time, nearly half (~47%) of the essential yeast genes can be substituted for by their corresponding human counterparts and the yeast are just fine?! On this episode, Riddhiman Kannan talks to us about how putting human genes into yeast can be used as a tool to more easily study human evolution and disease, and even help discover new therapies!

*NOTE* The recording of the interview comes in a few minutes after we actually started; sorry for the missing time!

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Monday, May 8th, 2017 - Stephen Jones talks about cellular aging!

8May

What is aging? How old you are, or maybe instead how well you maintain your health? Where does aging occur? In our organs, tissues, or even individual cells? These answers to these seemingly simple questions, are anything but. In this episode, Stephen Jones tells us how his study of individual cells using a "microfluidic" machine allows him to capture about a thousand individual cells at a time and watch them over their entire lives through each (division) replication, conflict, and catastrophe, thereby directly observing the cellular aging process. Using this work has allowed him to also shed light on the processes of cellular quiescence (taking a "break" from division) and silencing (how cells keep some parts of their DNA shut off), so we can understand how these vital cellular functions contribute to the aging process!

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Monday, April 24th, 2017 - Momo Wisath Sae-Lee talks about using nematodes to study Alzheimer’s!

24Apr

While you are proabably familiar with Alzheimer's disease (AD), the microscopic creatures named nematodes/roundworms may be a bit more foreign. Believe it or not, these tiny worms have much more in common with humans than it seems, having already helped us unravel important cellular processes like programmed cell death and RNA interference that occur in humans as well as these worms. Futhermore, they may yet hold the key to unlocking a cure for AD! Listen in to hear Momo Wisath Sae-Lee tell us about how nematodes are helping to answer important questions like what makes certain types of neurons more vulnerable to degredation than others, what genetic risk factors can lead to neural degeneration, and how nematodes can help us screen future drugs to eradticate this debilitating disease.

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Monday, April 10th, 2017 - Ashley Green talks invasive species!

10Apr

What are invasive species? How do they get there? Why should we care? What can we do about them? Ashley Green talks us through these questions and more!

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Monday, April 3rd, 2017 - Azat Akhmetov talks about using DNA to store information!

3Apr

This week, Azat Akhmetov tells us how silicon-based data storage may become a thing of the past thanks to a familiar but unlikely new way to store data: in DNA! While current storage methods are limited by natural resources, stability, and physical constraints, DNA serves as a way to surpass these limits and revolutionize the way data is stored and accessed. His research focuses on tackling the challenges left standing to make this intersting idea a reality; tune in to find out more!

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Monday, March 27th, 2017 - Jason Ikpatt talks about monogamy!

27Mar

Come follow us down the rabbit hole this week! Jason Ikpatt, PhD student in the institute of cellular and molecular biology, discusses monogamy, brains, and epigenetics!

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Monday, March 6, 2017 - Caleb Swaim talks about viruses!

6Mar

Caleb Swaim talks with us tonight about viruses and the protein ISG15 that is involved in combating viruses! We will also delve into the debate "Are viruses alive?", discuss how ISG15 may be used in the future to manipulate the immune system, and talk about resurrecting ancient viruses!!! Tune in!!!

 

Warning: Some minor cursing in this episode. 

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Monday, February 27, 2017 - Dr. Rebecca Lewis discusses the evolution of power in primates

27Feb

Primatologist Dr. Rebecca Lewis is an associate professor of Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin and the director of Ankoatsifaka Research Station in Kirindy Mitea National Park, Madagascar. We discuss her research on the evolution of power in primates, how she became interested in studying Verreaux's sifaka, and her experiences establishing and maintaining a biological field site in Madagascar.

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